Image of Photographer

Chi Modu

Photographer

Documenting the defining years of hip hop

Chi first picked up a camera while a student at Rutgers. After honing his skills at the International Center of Photography, he landed a job at The Source, which was the definitive magazine of hip hop culture. It was here that Chi developed relationships with the biggest icons of the hip hop movement, including Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, and L-L Cool J, most of whom were not yet famous. 

In addition to shooting over 30 cover photos for The Source as their Director of Photography, Chi was able to capture the musicians in candid, unexpected moments, due to his disarming manner and unique perspective. His photos include some of the most groundbreaking, memorable images of that era, including Tupac Smoking and Biggie WTC (standing in from of the World Trade Towers). He not only chronicled and defined the most important phase of the hip hop movement, now a global force, he also was able to define the artists and show them as real people, rather than one-dimensional celebrities. 

 
A wide reaching audience

Chi’s timeless, unique photographs are often requested for commercials, films and music documentaries along with being held in private collections. His images have also been licensed by Sony, Paramount, Viacom, The New York Times and The LondonTimes. Even Rolling Stone realized its epic book, “The ‘90s: The Inside Stories from the Decade That Rocked,” would not have been complete without Chi’s iconic photo of Tupac. In addition to The Source, his photos have graced the covers of Rolling Stone Magazine and Jazz Times, and album covers for Snoop, Method Man, Mobb Deep, Mad Lion, and Christian McBride. His work has also appeared in numerous exhibitions, including the Hutchins Gallery, Lawrenceville School, Lawrenceville NJ, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn NY, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland OH.
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